In recent years, it has become increasingly important for businesses to secure their IT systems to reduce the chance of falling victim to a cyberattack. In the UK alone, 39% of businesses were targeted by a cyberattack in the last 12 months. Whilst most newsworthy cyberattacks target large businesses and enterprises, it is just as common for small businesses to be attacked, as they are less likely to have invested in securing their IT systems. For this reason, all SMB owners should invest in strengthening their security posture and aim to achieve a Cyber Essentials certification.

What is a Cyber Essentials certification?

Cyber Essentials is a UK Government-backed scheme designed to protect organisations against a wide variety of common cyberattacks. There are two levels of certifications: Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus. Cyber Essentials is a self-assessment, that ensures businesses have controls in place to protect against most common cyberattacks. Cyber Essentials Plus is a more in-depth certification and includes hands-on technical verification.

The Cyber Essentials certification covers many areas, including firewalls, secure configuration, user access control, malware protection, security update management and more. The certification lasts for 12 months and is regularly updated to ensure businesses are protected against novel attack methods.

The importance of cybersecurity for SMBs in 2022

All small businesses are at risk of falling victim to a cyberattack, with the most common cyberattacks being phishing, data breaches and ransomware attacks. All of these attacks can be devastating for businesses, both in terms of the cost of remediation, as well as the costs associated with damages to a business’s reputation.

Thankfully, many of these attacks are carried out by relatively unskilled cybercriminals and therefore can be stopped by implementing basic security controls. With a Cyber Essentials certification, these attacks are no longer viable.

Benefits of a Cyber Essentials certification for SMBs

Reduce the chance of falling victim to a cyberattack

The overall goal of Cyber Essentials is to reduce a business’s cyber risk. As the assessment covers most attack surfaces and the associated technical security controls, Cyber Essentials covers all the bases to protect from 80% of common cyberattacks. Although the methods that cybercriminals use are constantly changing, these technical controls will typically stop novel attack methods, especially if they are not highly targeted attacks.

Gain a competitive advantage

For small businesses within competitive industries, a Cyber Essentials certification can be a way to stand apart from the competition. The certification shows that your business takes security seriously, and any customer, either consumer or corporate, doing business with you is less likely to have their data leaked as part of a customer data breach. After a business obtains their Cyber Essentials certification, they can also display the certification badge on their website and other marketing materials.

Find new business opportunities

A Cyber Essentials certification is mandatory for businesses considering submitting a bid for a contract with the NHS, Ministry of Defence, and UK Government. Many private sector businesses also look for the Cyber Essentials badge of approval when seeking new suppliers.

Improve credibility and reputation

The technical controls necessary to obtain a Cyber Essentials certification are relatively simple to implement, and the self-assessment is a quick and easy process. This simple and affordable certification can add significant value to a business as it improves credibility and reputation. Cyber Essentials shows that a business is committed to protecting their customer’s data and taking action to reduce the chance of falling victim to a cyberattack.

Free Cyber Liability Insurance

Once a business has obtained their Cyber Essentials certification, they are automatically entitled to free Cyber Liability Insurance to the total limit of £25,000 of indemnity. This also gives businesses access to a 24-hour hotline to report a cyber incident, which will provide crisis management and incident response. For businesses that do not already have cyber insurance, this is a perfect option to recover from a small breach or incident. Many cyber insurance providers will also give discounts to businesses that are Cyber Essentials certified.

How we can help

For businesses that are not well versed in the world of cybersecurity, it can be difficult to implement the technical controls necessary to obtain a Cyber Essentials certification. We can help your business implement the technical controls, as well as provide additional security services to further reduce the chance of falling victim to a cyberattack. To find out more, contact us today.